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Voices of Spencer Creek

The Sunnyside of Spencer Butte: Lucy McIver, Peace Pole Artist

It is notable that every language HAS a word for peace.

By Lois Barton

Posted on Jan 26, 2007

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Artist Lucy McIver and one of her Peace Poles, photo by Karen Lundblad

My friend Lucy McIver has made 40 peace poles and has a firm order for at least 10 more. My curiosity about this unusual endeavor led to a conversation with Lucy who is an artist experienced in creating clay sculptures. She explained how she got started and told stories about where some of her poles have found a home.

"I had been uneasy about the threatened war in Iraq and wondering what I could do about it," Lucy said. "Several years ago I saw a peace pole in Portland, Oregon. It was just a white post with the word PEACE inscribed on it in black lettering. Several of us were feeling upset about the threat of war and one day in (Quaker) Meeting for worship I was feeling oppressed by what was going on-- the war. I just threw up my hands mentally. What could I do? And in the meditation a peace pole came into my mind. It wasn't the one I'd seen in Portland. It had tiles on it. It had designs of peace and people--a real work of art. I realized I COULD DO THAT. It had to be peaceful. The next morning I made 8 tiles and they were all for peace and they had peace doves on them. It was a sort of prayer practice.

"You have to roll out and feel the clay. The tiles have to set. I put them between drywall to keep them flat as they dry. From there they go to bake. I have a small kiln in the garage where I can fire the tiles the first time . Then you add glaze and take them outside to the big Raku kiln.

"I'm going to do the tiles to make a peace pole with the young people in our Friend's Meeting."

"Where do your poles find a home?" I asked. "In what way are they creating peace? Are they weatherproof for outdoor placement? "

"We've had one outside in our front yard since the beginning in 2003 and it is fine. There is one at Mt. Angel. They have a little place outside for meditation. They love the idea of a peace pole as a focus for meditation. People usually like to put them in a private part of their garden where they linger. I try to design them so there is something on each side to inspire the observer.

"Cortesia Sanctuary people have one of the poles. They have created a web site and will include the peace pole ministry in it. They expect to sell peace poles. They are going to buy outright ten of them just to get ready. It is a challenge because generally just as I finish one pole someone comes along and buys it. I had one in the house a couple of years ago when a friend from the East coast visited. She said 'Oh, I need to take that down to Ashland.' I never know when I get one finished where it will end up. It takes about six weeks to complete one."

"From the popularity of those you are making they have an impact on those who buy them. In a sense that answers my question about how they add to the concept of peace in the world," I responded.

"I keep prices down, about $150. If I do something big or outstanding I put a larger price on it. A friend gave me a madrone log 8 feet long. It has that beautiful color and I created a pole from that with Native American languages. I used Native American designs but also different languages from tribes in the four corners of this nation and from Alaska and Mexico. There is a place on the web which lists the word for peace in every languages. It is notable that every language HAS a word for peace.

"I worked with a local High School and Middle School students to make peace poles for them. My contact there was through a friend who knew of a peace club at the high school. If you take a piece of clay, just a little piece of clay in your hand you can remind people that clay is one of the oldest parts of Mother Earth. That clay in your hand may be 5 million years old. You can use it to talk to people; to bring the message of peace."

"That's a creative approach to share with kids," I told Lucy.

"You know for years we've put our babys' handprints and foot prints in clay. This substance is used by artists in many ways. I've worked with clay long enough that I can do it comfortably. I've done very little about advertising or promotion. It's gone by word of mouth. When other things come into my life peace pole orders and interest drop off until my time is free again. I pray as I work and one of my poles has the words 'I have peace in my fingers.' down its length.

Lucy referred me to where I found the following quote from Peace Pole Skulptor. "Peace poles are a tradition that began 50 years ago. More than 200,000 peace poles made by various people in various countries have been planted around the world....(They) are monuments to peace."

For a first person account visit The Peace Pole Project by Lucy McIver. The pictures are now digitally scrambled but the text is great.

Copyright ©2007 by Lois Barton

Writer and historian
Lois Barton

Lois Barton is an 88 year old mother of eight children. She has lived on the same rural acreage just south of Eugene, Oregon for more than 50 years. All their children learned to milk, to keep the woodboxes filled, to do their share of household and garden chores. Her first book, Spencer Butte Pioneers, was published in 1982 when her youngest started to school. Since then she wrote five other books: Daughter of the Soil, now out of print; One Woman's West; A Quaker Promise Kept; and Through My Window, autobiographical sketches, sequel to Daughter Of the Soil.

Through the years Lois has been a 4H leader, president of the neighborhood association, a precinct committee woman, election board clerk, editor of the Lane County Historian, and a life-long Quaker. She spent a month in Southeast Asia in 1974 as a member of a church peace mission, after working for ten years as director of the Eugene Chapter of the World Without War Council.

Follow the links of the Voices of Spencer Creek for the most recent articles by Lois Barton, including:

The Sunnyside of Spencer Butte: Telephones, Then and Now

The Sunnyside of Spencer Butte: Remembering Bovine Tuberculosis

The Sunnyside of Spencer Butte: What Is a Quilt?

The Sunnyside of Spencer Butte: Quakers in the British Virgin Islands

The Sunnyside of Spencer Butte: Manta Rays, and Dandelions, A Poem, also introducing Carolann Krohn

The Sunnyside of Spencer Butte: Those Husky Macadamia Nuts

The Sunnyside of Spencer Butte: Fender's Blue, a Nine Day Wonder

The Sunnyside of Spencer Butte: Frannie and the Arrow

The Sunnyside of Spencer Butte: Bhavia's Cambodia

The Sunnyside of Spencer Butte: The Saga of the Smoking Chimney

The Sunnyside of Spencer Butte: The Saga of Big Oak Stables

The Sunnyside of Spencer Butte: A Fishy Story

The Sunnyside of Spencer Butte: A Different Peace

The Sunnyside of Spencer Butte: Hal and the Mountain

The Sunnyside of Spencer Butte: A Rogue River Adventure

Sunnyside of Spencer Butte: Obituary for a Country Cat

The Sunnyside of Spencer Butte: The Cortesia Sanctuary

The Sunnyside of Spencer Butte: The Tree and Me and Lady Slippers

The Sunnyside of Spencer Butte: Cranberries

The Sunnyside of Spencer Butte: Endurance Riding

The Sunnyside of Spencer Butte: Butterflies and Community Development

and The Sunnyside of Spencer Butte: The Last Gift.

See more of Lois Barton's articles in West By online magazine's archives:

Visit the Heron Rookery

Sauerkraut and All That

Charlotte's Overdose - Just who is Charlotte and what did she take?

The Midwife–The midnight call awoke an unusual midwife.

The Mystery of Fox Hollow - Fact and fiction meet in this story of the origins of Faith Rock.

Trees, Tame Trees and Squirrel.

© Copyright 2000-2006 by West By

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